BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS
Top 10 Travel Scams to Look Out For!
Welcome to the brave new world of vacation ripoffs! The old "catch my baby while I pick your pocket" trick seems downright tame compared with this scary new breed of travel cons.
Bali has an altogether unexpected kind of crook—the monkeys who are so beloved that they have their own sacred forest and temple, where they're allowed to roam free. These monkeys can have sticky fingers, going after food if it piques their interest—and, worse, valuables. Some enterprising locals are usually on-hand to coax the monkey to give back its plunder, though they'll ask for a small tip of up to $3.50.
Solution: Seek out a staff member for assistance if a monkey snatches something from you. Better yet: hold on tightly to purses and backpacks and remove and secure glasses or anything else that can be easily purloined.
While some pickpockets make their living on not being noticed, others do it by getting aggressive and in your face—then ripping you off while you're distracted. Rome is home to the infamous "fake baby" ruse, which sees a woman trip and throw a bundled doll into your arms, or just drop it on the ground, in an attempt to draw your attention away from pickpockets, often children, nicking your wallet or making away with your camera bag.
Solution: Beware of women who "throw" their babies or any other unusual distractions.
The cramped and congested passageways of Cochabamba's famed La Cancha—the largest market in Bolivia—make it the perfect staging ground for "the squeeze." Overwhelmed by the chaos and distracted by the overflowing stalls, you might find yourself suddenly pressed among a group of burly men, unable to move your arms. By the time the surprise wears off, the thugs have already rummaged through your pockets and disappeared.
Solution: Pay extra attention at cross-streets, which lend themselves to fast approaches and easy escapes.
It costs nothing to spend the day at Barú Island's Playa Blanca, which with its white sands and crystal Caribbean surf might be Colombia's most beautiful beach. Lying on your towel, you might feel a pair of warm hands on your shoulders, and hear the soothing voice of a woman saying to accept this massage as a gift. Tempting, but if you aren't prepared to part with at least $10 in pesos, the price will be an especially histrionic fight.
Solution: Remember, there is no such thing as a free massage.